HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Running and Celebrating in Rangeley, Maine

The last few years we have been fortunate to celebrate Thanksgiving at our timeshare at Rangeley Lake Resort.  Rangeley is a magical place where you can get away from city life and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and an easy going pace to the day.  I know the timeshare industry is often a scam, but Rangeley has served us well.  Early on we felt like we threw away our money, but for the last five or six years, the maintenance fee has been more than worth it.

Upon arriving, “Rangeley Rules” go into effect for adults and kids alike.  This essentially means that there are no rules.  If you want to sleep in and then take a nap after breakfast it’s OK…Want to wear pajamas all day? That works…Skip dinner and go fishing? Yup…Start the day off with a run and crack that first libation at 9AM?  No problem (adults only).  We love it and the kids love it.  More than the place, it’s the lack of  Rangeley Rules that really make our stays there magical.

This year we headed up after work on Monday evening (a one day work week is AWESOME) and started the festivities that included unpacking, lighting the fire, and taking it easy in our cabin before a restful sleep.

Tuesday turned out to be such a great day.  Katie and I started the morning with a run in the area.  Can’t avoid some crazy hills, but it was a great start to the day:

Screenshot 2015-11-25 10.28.55

Tuesday morning’s Welcome to Rangeley run.  Man! It was 15 degrees (wind chill was 5 degrees) and the hills are killer here, but it was a great start to an awesome day.

After the run, we had a breakfast feast highlighted with Tonga Toast (pretty much French Toast coated with Fruity Pebbles).  We discovered this recipe at The Bayou Kitchen and it has been a traditional first breakfast in Rangeley for us.  Rest of the day included a trip to the pool in the main lodge, a few spirited games of Jenga and Apples to Apples,  a dinner of Katie’s amazing homemade pizza and an afternoon trip to downtown.  I was excited to purchase these beauties:


A new pair of Darn Tough cushioned hikers.  More cushion than I’ve had, but they have been great so far.

After another relaxing evening, our Wednesday “Friendsgiving” started our with another Rangeley Run:

Screenshot 2015-11-25 09.54.14

My Wednesday morning run through downtown Rangeley before a day of celebration, cooking, eating , and libating.

When we go to the resort for Thanksgiving week, we usually have to check out on Friday.  A couple of years ago we had the brainstorm that we should have Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday and enjoy the leftovers on Thanksgiving Day rather than trying to pack them up for the drive home on Friday.  It has been great and really stretches out the “holiday feeling”.

No Thanksgiving for us is complete without our background music which is an endless loop of these two classics:

  1. “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie
  2. “Thanksgiving Day” by Ray Davies

They never get old!

Before really getting into the cooking, I discovered that I was short a couple of items to prepare for the day.  Katie was gone with our vehicle, so I had to improvise with an unplanned extra run:


You know you’re a runner when you track a run (1.01 miles) to the Rangeley IGA for a turkey pan, fire log, and some adult beverages.


Maybe not Breakfast Run material, but no trip to Rangeley is complete without a visit to good old IGA!

I have to say that one of the funnest days of the year is when I’m in the kitchen all day preparing Thanksgiving Dinner.  This year’s menu included Turkey (what else?) stuffed with cornbread stuffing (Pepperidge Farm with diced onions, diced carrots, Craisins, diced apples, bacon grease -in place of a 2 Tbsp of butter-, and crumbled Sweet Italian Sausage), 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, a great arugula salad (made by Katie), homemade rosemary rolls (Katie’s creation), homemade apple pie (Katie again), and a couple of vegetable dishes.

Some early prep work (still in my PEP base layer!):

And some more prep:


In the course cooking the turkey, I decided to sit down for a bit and my phone was hijacked from my lap during a quick nap (these appeared on a previous post from the day):

By early evening the meal was ready, and we were able to feast during our Wednesday “Friendsgiving” with old friends we had not seen in quite some time (with Arlo and Ray Davies still playing strong in the background).

Later that night we enjoyed some more board games, good conversation, and a chilly evening walk around the resort.  It was one of the most satisfying Thanksgiving times ever!  I did not get into bed until 2AM, but still managed to rise early for a Thanksgiving Morning Run:

Screenshot 2015-11-26 11.05.46

Thanksgiving Morning Run.  The hills weren’t so extreme on this route.

One sight on the run was this holiday creation:


Rejected character from The Nightmare Before Christmas?

The rest of the day included plentiful Thanksgiving leftovers, some football, and more fun.  Later in the evening we made our way to the indoor pool and hot tubs.  One lesson I learned from the evening is that there is a good reason for those “No Alcohol Consumption” warnings while using the hot tub.  You may end up with a few embarrassing moments caught on film:



Yes. That’s me with no shirt, but still rocking the vest. Just back from the hot tub and feeling the effects of too much time with John Jameson.

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful Thanksgiving and now “tis the season” for cold weather running and some great holiday Breakfast Runs.

See you on the road!

Out of Town Run: Haven Brothers (Providence, RI)

So, I was in Providence, Rhode Island, last weekend for the New England Oireachtas.  This in itself is worth an entire blog post.  Our Daughters, Maggie (dancing for 10 years) and Addie (dancing for 2 years) have participated in Irish step dance at the Stillson School of Irish Dance.  I love Irish Dance as an art form, but as a parent, it can be one of the most daunting tasks one ever takes.  At a competition, such as Oireachtas (pronounced Or-rock-tus) you watch your child dance under scrutiny of Irish international judges.  If you ever go to an Irish dance competition you will learn the agony joy of hearing the “High Caul Cap” and “Saint Patrick’s Day Caley” over and over again.  I don’t like my daughters being judged, but I still always marvel at their prowess on the stage and how beautiful they are.  Take a look:

High Caul Cap:

This was Maggie dancing last year:

After a long Saturday of dancing we were all ready for some good and cheap eats.  I was checking out some local options.  Since starting this blog I find myself becoming a food snob  anti-chain restaurants much to the disappointment of my McDonald’s loving daughters.  I searched out some options and found out that Providence was home to one of the oldest restaurants on wheels in the USA, Haven Brothers (an original Food Truck?).


Addie with her milkshake.

Haven Brothers is a trailer that is parked in downtown Providence and then moved after it closes at 4AM (!) each morning.  They are renowned for quick service and being an “old-time” diner.  Here’s what’s posted on Wikipedia:

“Once in its history, Haven Brothers set up shop in a location far from Providence. On April 9, 2008 the diner was brought to Mid-town Manhattan and parked outside the NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for the Today Show. Hosts Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer (both of whom had worked at the NBC10 studios in Providence two blocks from Havens Brothers time-honored location beside Providence City Hall) had each—independently—chosen it as their favorite “old-time” diner. http://shenews.projo.com/2008/04/haven-bros-dine.html

It was also featured in a Providence-themed episode of Man v. Food Nation.”

-see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haven_Brothers_Diner

Nothing too fancy here and that suited our needs for some fast good tasting eats:


Haven Brothers Menu inside the trailer.

The girls went for basic cheeseburgers, fries, mozzarella sticks, and milkshakes.  I went with the Deluxe Burger which included (mayo, lettuce, and tomato).  In hindsight, I wish that I chose a fat sub, but sometimes that burger craving is hard to overcome.

I was amazed that the speed our order was ready.  My impatient teenager oldest went on ahead of us to the hotel and we still made it back just as she was entering the hotel room and we were getting on the elevator.  The burgers tasted good, but were not fantastic.  Same with the fries and mozzarella sticks, which probably would’ve been best right out of the fryer.  The best thing about Havens was milkshakes which were made heaping scoops of ice cream and whipped up right in front of us.  They were perfectly thick and tasty.  One disappointment was that the order totaled $43, which seems to be a bit much for fast food for three.  I was expecting in the neighborhood of $25, but I can still remember the days when ten dollars feeding a family of four at McDonald’s.

BTW, I did squeeze in a couple of fun early morning fun runs in Providence.

It was really cool to run the city in the early morning hours.  During each run, I did the Providence “Rocky Run” up the steps of the Rhode Island State House.  I got a little lost Sunday morning, but I eventually made it back to our hotel in the Providence financial district by looking for the Biltmore Hotel sign high in the sky.  Here’s a few highlights from my Sunday morning run:

See you on the road!

Amazing Run in Camden/Rockport

UntitledWe had a such a great breakfast run this weekend that I can’t possibly limit it to one post.  I’ll talk about the breakfast part later.  Portland is a beautiful place to run, and we really love living here, but every once in a while, it’s nice to run somewhere else.  (I haven’t had a chance yet, but I want to create a map with a pin for every state, city, town where I’ve run – and maybe a different color pin where I’ve raced.)

All year, we’d seriously been considering doing this 6.66 mile race in Salem, MA, but it just seemed like too much to pull together in the end.  I’m not sure what got the idea into our heads, but we decided to drive up to Camden instead.  No race, just running and eating.  I grew up in Camden, and Mike grew up in Rockport, so it was going to be pretty cool to run by and possibly eat at our old haunts.  I wanted to eat at The Rockport Corner Shop, but alas, it’s not there anymore (OMG, who says “alas”?!  I should probably mention I’m having a glass of red wine while I write this post.)

I consulted my brother who has been in the area most recently, and he recommended Boynton McKay.  It used to be a drug store.  I remember shopping for greeting cards there with my mom when I was pretty young.  Maybe Addie’s age (8).  If you’ve seen Olive Kitteridge, it’s the drug store where the husband works.  That’s more how I remember it, but now it’s a very hip restaurant.  But, again, that’s a blog post for another day.

Anyway, both our families have moved away from the area, and apparently we didn’t make strong enough connections in high school to go back and visit classmates.  Neither of us could remember when we were last there, but our oldest son was baptized there in 1996 or so.  I think we may have gone back a bit later to help my parents move away, but that wouldn’t have been long after.  Let’s say, it’s been at least 15 years.

We’d made the plan about a week ago, so I thought about it off and on all week.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel; emotional, maybe? or disappointed in the changes?  The day finally arrived, and since we’ve been busy watching the Mets in the World Series, it was a late Friday night.  For some reason that I still don’t understand, Mike wanted to set out on the 90 minute drive super early.  He said, “4:00 a.m., no bellyaching”.  I’m pretty much a morning person, so I was okay with that.  I woke up in the middle of the night as I often do, and realized that all of our running clothes were in the washing machine.  Waking up in the middle of the night and actually getting up are completely different things, but I managed to drag myself out of bed to put the laundry in the dryer.  Waking Mike up wasn’t quite as easy, but we did manage to leave the house by around 5:30.  It really stresses me out to be late, so I was worried Boynton McKay would be jam packed by the time we finished running, but I figured we’d go with one thing at a time.

After stopping in Wiscasset for gas and people-hydration, we arrived in Camden around 7:15 or so.  At that hour, we had no problem finding parking across from Boynton McKay.  We ignored the 2 hour parking signs assuming we’d be done running by then and would move the car if need be, but really who was going to be marking tires at that time of year at that time of day?  But that did trigger my first memory of the day of a uniformed woman walking through town drawing yellow chalk marks on cars’ tires.

Mike was shooting for about 10 miles.  I didn’t really care what we did.  (Injured, more about that another day, too.)  Then again, I don’t like not having a plan, so I sketched out a rudimentary route that I figured would at least give us 6 miles or so.  Here’s what we ended up doing:Capture

It was absolutely gorgeous,

(It’s moose-huntin’ season here, so it was handy that Mike had on his blaze orange.)
and brought back so many unexpected memories as we went along.  Two of my first jobs in retail (motivation for college), my dad’s first office when he started his cheese company (creme fraiche first), where my bus stopped to pick up my friend, Joy Anderson, (and other kids who seemed weird at the time and others that I now know were bullied – the boy with the girlish name, for example), the park I ran away to when I was mad at my parents, the house I fantasized about living in as my bus drove by,

the oreo cows that are so sentimental that my dad now owns six or so,

(those are the ones in Rockport, but here’s a close up of one of my Dad’s:)
DSC_3169(That’s them on a colder day last winter. The one in the front is called “Two Tags”. She’s very naughty. I like to call her, “Lunch”.)
and of course, their home,


(Mike once put a Bangor Daily News mailbox in the middle of their field.  I suppose they wanted to keep up with current events.  As mischievous as that seems, doesn’t that seem better than playing Halo?)

the place where Mike played golf,
Andre the seal,

(some of us were being a bit sillier than others)
the white arch between Rockport and Camden that we remembered getting hit by a truck and requiring major fundraisers to rebuild,


the church I had to walk to every Monday to attend CCD with a very small contingent of other Catholics
and where we later got married,
Untitled(Please forgive the helmet head, I’d been wearing my hood.)
our high school that’s now the middle school,
the car wash that Mike remembered and I didn’t that was owned by one of our schoolmates families, where we used to swim in the river,
my old house,

(which is actually for sale – check it out here.  We were tempted for a second.)
the park where we used to hang out and counted our coins to try to save up enough money for a tent to go camping,
the waterfall that housed lots of ducks that we used to feed.

(And also the back of the deli where I used to get sandwiches for my lunch break at work and was owned by our friends’ family.)

We had a lovely breakfast then hit up Maine Sport where my sister used to work.  It’s like a mini L.L. Bean.  We spent quite a bit of time looking at running gear and feeding Mike’s new love of merino wool.  I’ll let him blog about it, but he just might have purchased wool underwear!

After that, we hit up The Market Basket which was probably my first ever experience with gourmet food.  As you might have surmised, I do really like to eat. Growing up in Maine in the 80’s (okay fine, and 70’s), I’m not sure there really was the concept of French Bread, so The Market Basket provided me with my first taste of it, and it was so good that I’ve been seeking a duplicate ever since.  The closest I’ve come is the Bread Baker’s Apprentice pain a l’ancienne.  Mike and I used to buy their delicious sandwiches made on the French Bread and a couple of 35 cent peanut butter balls then continue down Route 1 to Miss Plum’s for a pint of ice cream; usually half raspberry chocolate chip and half coconut hash, but sometimes malted milk ball would sub in.  We would take them to Beauchamp Point

(On the way to Beauchamp Point – 20 plus years later.)
and climb down on the rocks and enjoy them along with some teenage romance.

(The view of Rockport Harbor from those rocks.)
I don’t know (but I probably should know seeing as we have 3 teenagers now) if kids still do those kinds of things today.

We didn’t see any sign of Miss Plums, but Market Basket was still going strong.  The bread was yummy, and I think pretty much how I remembered it.  I really like baking, and, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure my motivation was to try to duplicate this French Bread, and, even though it’s not technically baking, the peanut butter balls, too.

(The peanut butter balls were almost too fancy now with their white candy wrappers on the platter.  I remember them just being in a wooden basket by the counter.)
Both things were delicious from The Market Basket, but I’m satisfied with my replicas.  Even though there were kind of different (on focaccia and wraps instead of French Bread), they still had a great variety of sandwiches and we snagged a Thanksgiving-style turkey sandwich which was probably even better than the sandwiches we had back in the day and inspired Thanksgiving sandwiches for lunch/dinner today.

I was curious to see if we’d see anyone we knew, but funnily enough the only people we recognized were a couple that we know from Portland who were in town for the weekend hiking.  I think I recognized the mother of a distant classmate, but that was about it.

On our way out of town, we swung by Mike’s old house and grabbed a quick shot while the people inside were looking out at us then made our escape back to Portland.
We didn’t really appreciate the area growing up, but really enjoyed going back and seeing it through new and old eyes.  Go, if you can!  We will definitely be paying another visit.  Who knows what other memories will surface.